Part of what makes being a Galveston resident so special is that we get to live in a place where other people vacation. And where there are millions of people on vacation, there are great restaurants, attractions and events for visitors and residents alike.

Sure, there are inconveniences associated with living in a small town that attracts big crowds. But for many, it’s worth taking a different route to work or to the grocery store. We get to live near the beach.

As the organization tasked with promoting and managing Galveston’s tourism product, the park board has made great strides in balancing the needs of the community and its residents with visitors’ expectations.

The visitors to the island who stay overnight contribute hotel occupancy taxes that go back to the park board for tourism promotion. Residents don’t pay this tax — unless they stay at a hotel or vacation rental. Visitors contribute sales tax to the economy when they go to restaurants, shops and attractions. In fact, sales tax generated from visitors represents almost half of the city of Galveston’s general fund and goes to support important services such as police and fire protection.

Thanks to visitor-contributed funds, there’s something to do almost every week of the year here on the island. From large festivals like Mardi Gras and Dickens on The Strand to smaller events like food festivals and running races, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and about in Galveston.

Galveston is home to a thriving arts and entertainment scene thanks in part to hotel occupancy tax funds. Concerts at The Grand 1894 Opera House, live theater at East End Theater Co., programming at The Bryan Museum, Moody Gardens, the Galveston Railroad Museum, Bishop’s Palace and the Moody Mansion rival those found in larger cities but don’t require a ride over the causeway.

During the summer, the park board partners with local nonprofit Artist Boat to offer environmental education through its Bucket Brigade. This interactive and free program allows participants to learn about their relationship with the environment and ways to protect it.

And, thanks to the work of the park board, the beaches are widened and nourished on a regular basis — protecting homes and businesses. The hardworking coastal zone management team keeps the beach pristine, while the award-winning lifeguard team works to keep it safe.

“Even if you choose never to take advantage of any of the above opportunities, if you’re a Galveston homeowner, you are a beneficiary of tourism’s economic impact,” park board CEO Kelly de Schaun said. “In 2019, tourism-driven state and local sales tax proceeds helped offset the average household tax burden by more than $4,000.”

Park Board meetings are typically held at 1:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month at Park Board Plaza, 601 23rd St.

Mary Beth Bassett is the public relations director for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Park Board of Trustees.

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